Students alumni, faculty, and administrators gathered in the third floor lounge of Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law on April 6th to witness as the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution honored Dr. Rajiv Shah as the 2017 recipient of the International Advocate for Peace Award.
In her opening remarks, Dean Melanie Leslie introduced the Kukin Program and the Journal. She noted that ADR and conflict resolution are “particularly relevant in today’s world, where conflict seems to be around every corner.” She praised the Program and the Journal for educating a generation of lawyers in this crucial legal field before introducing Professor Lela Love, director of the Kukin Program and Cardozo’s Mediation Clinic.
Professor Love described Dr. Shah and his accomplishments as “truly remarkable,” enumerated some of his many impressive experiences as the head of USAID, and called him “the preeminent peacemaker.” She then focused on what makes Cardozo’s ADR program so remarkable—the students—specifically the hard work of Editor in Chief, Benjamin Dynkin; Managing Editor, Nicole Hertzberg; and Symposium Editor, Kelsey Weiner.
Dynkin then introduced Dr. Shah, and presented the award to him. Dynkin noted that Dr. Shah was selected to receive this award because “he spent his life building up the world.” Unlike many past recipients of the award; such as Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, President Bill Clinton, President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu, Senator George Mitchell and Seeds of Peace, and Ambassador Dennis Ross who work in post-conflict environments, Dr. Shah focuses on development and conflict prevention.
Dr. Shah spoke about his time as the head of USAID and his new role as President of the Rockefeller Foundation. He spoke about being inspired by past award recipients, and by other icons of justice, including Justice Benjamin Cardozo. Dr. Shah spoke strongly about helping people all around the world. He said, “the pursuit of peace, and even more so, the pursuit of its close cousin, justice, is something we should all be passionate and committed and energetic about pursuing.” Dr. Shah stated that this fight is more important now than ever, and that the key to ending cycles of conflict is to address the root causes of these conflicts.
Dr. Shah has taken a hands-on role to conflict resolution and management, leading the U.S. response to the 2009 earthquake in Haiti, ongoing famine in the Horn of Africa, and the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Dr. Shah’s work for both USAID and the Rockefeller Foundation focuses on international development—in his tenure as head of USAID, he worked to make international economic growth a priority of the Obama Administration.